newsIsrael at War

Israel orders hospitals offline amid cyber threat

The temporary move is a precaution against cyberattack, and "at this stage" does not affect the hospitals' ability to function, according to the Israeli Health Ministry.

Ambulances at the entrance to the Emergency Department at Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera, April 29, 2019. Photo by Ehud Amiton/TPS.
Ambulances at the entrance to the Emergency Department at Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera, April 29, 2019. Photo by Ehud Amiton/TPS.

Israel’s Ministry of Health has instructed a number of hospitals to temporarily disconnect their systems from the internet amid fears of a cyberattack.

“In the effort to elevate the economy’s resilience, the National Cyber Directorate and the Health Ministry are acting to strengthen hospitals against attacks,” the ministry said on Saturday night.

“As part of this effort, we are conducting self-initiated actions such as temporarily severing the [hospitals’] internet connection. At this stage, this does not influence the hospitals’ ability to function, and patients were treated as usual,” the statement continued.

It did not indicate whether the measures were in response to a current attack or any specific threats.

Since 2021, Israeli hospitals have experienced a series of cyberattacks, some of which have had severe consequences. These incidents have included ransomware attacks, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and data breaches, all aimed at crippling the hospitals’ operations and compromising patient information.

Israel’s State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman reported last May that Israel’s healthcare sector was vulnerable to cyberattacks. To test the preparedness of the hospitals, a team of hackers overseen by his office staged a controlled penetration of one major hospital, revealing deficiencies in its security precautions and responses.

Englman’s report stressed the vulnerability of hospital equipment, such as ultrasound and MRI scanning devices, which are also integrated into hospital information networks.

The most recent cyber attack on an Israeli hospital was in September, when a hacker group published patient data stolen from Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv.

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